African-American gospel is more than just the heart and soul of so much popular music, from soul and R&B to dance and jazz. It's also among the most vital, emotional and original art forms America has yet produced. From the house wrecking sound of Golden Age quartets and the gorgeous fluttering of the divas of early gospel music to the stomping and funky sound of contemporary R+B influenced urban gospel, we've got a delightful introduction… more »
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1960 | Label: CAPITOL NASHVILLE
It’s a minor tragedy of the internet age that millions will have been introduced to this astonishing album as a joke. The cover of Satan Is Real, which features Charles and Ira Louvin, clad in gleaming white suits, pleading melodramatically before a clearly home-made plywood Lord of Darkness, features regularly on those much-forwarded lists of gauche and ill-considered sleeve art.
The arch chuckling is misguided. The Louvins were Christians — devout to the point of being terrified — who grew up in northern Alabama and began recording during the 1950s, creating… more »
2013 | Label: Anti/Epitaph
Decades after her 1969 solo debut and a whopping 63 years since she joined her family in the Staple Singers, septuagenarian Mavis Staples is once again doing work that eclipses records of singers a third her age. The follow-up to 2010′s stunning You Are Not Alone, One True Vine continues her collaboration with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a pairing that seems strange in theory but sounds utterly sweet and mutually flattering in the grooves. As before, Tweedy gets unguarded performances from Staples that have sometimes eluded more conventional producers, and Staples… more »
2013 | Label: Daptone Records / The Orchard
Ester Mae Smith and sisters Angela Taylor and Della Daniels have been singing together since childhood, but the way their voices blend sounds much older: singing a cappella at Mt. Mariah Baptist Church in Como, Mississippi, the women harness a stripped-down sincerity. In their voices, God is taken off the pedestal and put in arms’ reach.
“Now let us all go back to that old landmark,” the women sing on the first track of Get an Understanding…, an invitation by a gospel trio molded in the land of the blues. “God… more »
2013 | Label: Yep Roc Records / Redeye
Gospel singer Rev. Gean West and his brother Rev. Tommie formed The Relatives in the early ’70s and disbanded by 1980, but their electrifying, innovative gospel-soul hybrid finally saw the light of day when their early singles and unreleased sessions were compiled on 2009′s Don’t Let Me Fall. The lo-fi glory of those recordings is now utterly fulfilled on this very long-time-coming full-on debut, The Electric Word, which augments the Relatives’ familial voices with members of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears. The added members powerfully facilitate the Relatives’ remarkable… more »